Thursday, March 31, 2016

I Need a Guide for "Dumber Than Dummies"

                                                  Image result for nascar empty seats

Ugh....I hate those weekends when the track is quiet and the seats are empty. If I was the dictator of the world, NASCAR would race 52 weeks a year. I know teams and drivers would hate me but dictators don't usually care what their subjects think of them or else they wouldn't be dictators.

Be that as it may, NASCAR was off last weekend so that's the way it goes.  Since I didn't have anything to watch on t.v. (except politics and that was too depressing as a steady diet), I turned Easter weekend into Electronics weekend.

I'm not very good with electronic devices but I'm one of those stubborn people who will try and try and try to do things myself before I give in and call Technical Support. I consider having to call Tech Support a moral failing.

My daughter-in-law bought me an Echo for Christmas. My friend has one and I was so envious. I was thrilled when I opened my gift from Lisa and voila, there it was!  That was actually before Christmas because it was the only time off work she had to fly from Florida to Indiana.

It is now the end of March and I've been working on getting it set up ever since but it would never connect. I'd get frustrated and give up. I did this over and over. I was trying to set it up via my desk top computer but I eventually discovered that you can't set up an Echo on any product that isn't Apple. I don't know why because Echo's are made and sold by Amazon. They must have some kind of special relationship with Apple. It was far in the process before I found this out because I usually don't go to Google and look up instructions until I've totally exhausted the trial and error method.

Well, I have both an Ipad and an Iphone. I haven't used the Ipad in so long, it made me start all over with passcodes and usernames and i.d.s., none of which I remembered so I had to laboriously go through the "forgot your password?" actions all over again. I couldn't find my wifi password anywhere. This is the password that goes with my wifi router but it turned out, it didn't matter because it seems that Apple has a special wifi  connection of its very own and that's the one I needed. I finally found it on my Iphone.

During this whole time, I was guiltily lying to my daughter-in-law that I had set up and was happily using my Echo.

So I worked on it again this weekend and had given up in disgust once again when suddenly I heard Alexa (she's the voice inside the Echo) say - "congratulations, you're connected and now ready to use your Echo!" I was so relieved to hear her kind voice, I almost cried.

Once that was done, I confidently moved onto my new Kindle (I lost my old one somehow). Again with the user names and the passcodes and the passwords. Hours later, my Kindle was ready to go.

And finally, the last one: my new phone. Not a cell phone, just a regular old landline phone. I tried to follow the instructions on the graphic map which, when it was spread out, took up the whole dining room table but their example of the phone wasn't exactly the same as my phone. I plugged in wires and phone thingies and punched buttons. I got the time and date set. I got caller i.d. turned on. I got my message recorded. It appeared as if I was good to go until friends started calling me on my cell phone. It seems my new phone was telling everyone that my number was no longer in service. I called it myself just to see and sure enough, it informed me that the number, which has been my number since 1991, was no longer valid.

And that's the way it still is. Ones of these days, I'll steel my backbone and try to figure out what the hell I did wrong. But if I get it working properly, don't try to call me on the weekend because NASCAR is back on track.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Western Swing An Unqualified Success

                                                         Image result for nascar superman wins in california

What a great race weekend! Superman (aka Jimmie Johnson) flew around the track at the end with the checkered flag. This was Jimmie's 77th win and put him alone in seventh place on the all-time win list, ahead of Dale Earnhardt.

This race offered so much of what fans say they want - lots of lead changes, lots of passing, close finish. What a pleasure it was to watch a car come up on the one in front and not get hung up behind a wall of air but rather, to be able to make the pass.

This is partially thanks to NASCAR's new downforce package. I'm as prone to criticizing NASCAR's leadership as anyone, at times, but it looks like they got this right. It's partially thanks to Auto Club Speedway's gritty old track (oh, please don't pave it any time soon!) which favors drivers who are comfortable letting the rear end hang out and who know how to manage tire wear (kudos to Goodyear for this tire). It rewards crew chiefs who know how to minimize the impact of bumps in the way their cars drive.

The one-who-will-be-my-main-driver-when-Jimmie-retires, Chase Elliott, was really rather spectacular at times, making moves that veteran drivers would be proud of, sliding through holes that didn't look big enough to fit into and ultimately finishing 6th. That said, Ryan Blaney was looking good too until he experienced some bad luck.

I was glad to see Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. with a top five , both for the sake of Ricky himself and as a sign that Roush may be coming back. And it was nice to see a top 10 for A. J. Allmendinger with the Little Team That Sometimes Can.

Lots of pissed off drivers at the end of this weekend. Kyle Busch was mad at life in general and NASCAR in particular. Come on, Kyle, no one blames you for being upset after blown tires resulted in two disappointing finishes after good runs in Xfinity and Sprint, but you're not just a driver anymore. As champion, you're the representative of the sport, and that demands a more mature response than accusing NASCAR of cheating and refusing to do your media responsibility.

Though, Austen Dillon could have been a little more gracious in victory himself.  He put himself in position but it was luck that put him in front.

Danica was angry at Kasey. He did wreck her and he did say he was sorry but no getting around that, while it wasn't a purposeful action, it did show poor judgment on his part when he was a lap down. (I have a feeling, there is beginning to be a sense of desperation in the Kahne camp).

Martin Truex, Jr. was upset with Joey. Joey took the blame but it didn't make Martin or his crew chief, Cole Pearn, feel any warmer toward him. Pearn jumped on Twitter for some inappropriate name calling and had to come back later and apologize.

As I write this, there haven't been any penalties handed down from NASCAR for various rules infractions but Kyle and Danica might want to keep their checkbooks handy.

All in all, NASCAR's western trio offered terrific racing and lots of drama. That's about all a fan can ask for.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Can You Comprehend .01 Of A Second?

Image result for nascar phoenix finishing order

Well, that was fun! It's pretty hard to beat Kevin Harvick at Phoenix but Carl Edwards came closer than anyone else ever has. Harvick won his 8th Phoenix race by all of .01 seconds in overtime as both cars bumped their way to the finish line.

There has been talk about Harvick possibly wanting to leave Stewart-Haas but I never put much stock in it. Kevin finally seems to have found a team that is the perfect fit for him. He has a crew chief for whom he has total respect. He has a fast car virtually every week and his pit crew delivers excellent pit stops. He moving toward the end of his career. I can't see him wanting to start over.

Of course, I was rather surprised when I heard Stewart-Haas was switching to Ford too....for the same reason....why mess with success? But I think Gene Haas needs to be the alpha male and doesn't like giving part of his own glory to Hendrick for supplying his engines and bodies. And I expect Ford gave him a hell of a deal to get another powerhouse team to compete with Penske since Roush has been a disappointment for the last few years. And while RPM is making progress, they aren't there yet.

I love that 2016 is setting up to be such a great rookie year. Both Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney finished in the top 10. Chase had the most quality passes of anyone on the track. They both drove like veterans. I have to root for both these kids - Chase, because I'm a Hendrick fan, and Ryan because, gosh, wouldn't it be great for the Wood Brothers to win Rookie of the Year in their first year in ages as a full-time team? Both of them are sons of NASCAR families and either would be a heartwarming story.

There was lots of passing in this race so, at least at some tracks, NASCAR's new downforce package seems to be getting the job done.

I hate it when my guy, Jimmie Johnson, ends up at the back of the pack to start because he screwed up and wrecked his car in qualifying but he made it exciting to watch him dispatch car after car and work his way to the front in record time. Same with Junior though he didn't have to come from so far behind.

What is up with Kasey Kahne? We know Hendrick builds great cars, as the other three HMS cars show week after week. We know Kasey is a good driver. We know he has a good crew chief and yet the Five car just never seems to be able to put it all together. If it wasn't for bad luck, Kasey wouldn't have any luck at all. And I have a feeling this may be a crucial year for him.

I would love to see Brian Vickers win a race during his stint as Tony's replacement.

Have to give a shout out to Austen Dillon. He seems to be finding his mojo this year. Meanwhile, Kyle Larson languishes although I think that is due more to Chip Ganassi Racing than Kyle himself. They seem to be a step behind so far in 2016.

All in all, I think this year is starting out to be a good one - four races, four winners - and off we go to Californ-i-a.


Sunday, March 6, 2016

Thumbs Up - Thumbs Down

Image result for Jimmie wins atlanta 2016                   Image result for brian france

I didn't get to watch the Atlanta race. I was in Las Vegas at the time. We happened to pass the sports section of the Bellagio Casino and I saw Jimmie in Victory Circle. I whooped and yelled and high-fived. A lady passing by commented, "you must have won?" and I said, "no, but my driver did!"

Jimmie is now tied with Dale Earnhardt's win record and he's a lock for the Chase. The rest of the season is going to be less tense and more fun thanks to a gutsy call by Chad and skillful driving by JJ.

I was disappointed when I got home to find out the race hadn't recorded on my DVR.  Can you get all the past races on YouTube?

As happy as I was about Jimmie winning, I felt equally as sour about Brian France and several others endorsing Donald Trump. I don't think the CEO of any sport should try to persuade its fans in any political direction. I'd have felt the same if he'd endorsed Hillary, my own choice for president. And it wasn't a throw-away line in an interview, just letting us know his personal feelings, its was a full-fledged endorsement as if it was coming from the sport itself.

Drivers, of course, have a perfect right to support who they want and to announce it if they choose but, having said that, I think they'd be wise not to. This election, more than any other I've lived through, has engendered hostility and disgust on both sides. I've been an enthusiastic fan of Chase Elliott but, I can't help it, I feel so much antipathy toward Donald Trump that it colors my thinking a bit about anyone who would support him.

I was in Las Vegas last week. NASCAR is in Las Vegas this week. I couldn't help thinking when I was there that if Donald Trump is elected and actually does what he says he'll do, Las Vegas would be a ghost town. I tried to pay attention and I'd say the employees of the hotels, casinos and restaurants are are split pretty evenly between Caucasians, African-Americans, Latinos, Orientals and Arabs. Ditto, the customers. I wonder if Brian France or Bill Elliott has thought about that?